Despite having a rocky season that has included losses to South Africa and Argentina, New Zealand is currently tied with South Africa for first place in the table. If both teams are victorious on Saturday, the race for first place might come down to a difference in point differential.
The All Blacks are now in first place going into the last round of matches, but their advantage over South Africa is solely based on the difference in points between the two teams, and Australia still has a chance to win the championship if things go their way.
After suffering a head injury in the last week’s game and having to leave the game early, the home team’s captain, Sam Cane, will not be able to participate in this game.
In addition, Quinn Tupaea will not be able to participate after sustaining a knee injury during a dangerous clear-out last Thursday, and David Havili will not be able to participate owing to a head injury.
As a result of an Achilles injury, Scott Barrett cannot play. Still, his brother Beauden Barrett enters the game at number 15, moving their other sibling Jordie Barrett into the inside center position.
After missing last week’s match because his child was born, the influential Ardie Savea will make his return at number eight. He will be joined in an entirely new back row by Dalton Papali’i and Akira Ioane. Savea’s absence from last week’s match was due to his child’s birth.
Codie Taylor has been selected to start at hooker in place of Samisoni Taukei’aho, who has been moved to the bench despite scoring two tries in Melbourne the previous week. Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Tupou Vaa’i, and Sevu Reece also make their first appearances on the replacements list alongside Samisoni Taukei’aho.
Lock Sam Whitelock will lead the team as captain for the first time on his 140th international cap, taking him over George Gregan and into fifth place on the list of players with the most international caps of all time. He is currently only one cap behind Brian O’Driscoll.
Rob Leota sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon in Melbourne, so he will not be able to play it. However, Australia’s captain, James Slipper, has recovered from an injury that took him off last week to start for his 123rd cap.
In addition, Darcy Swain will not participate since he was given a six-week suspension for the clear-out that led to Tupaea’s injury.
Scott Sio is also unable to participate because he is injured.
Cadeyrn Neville comes into the second row, while Foley maintains his spot at fly-half after an outstanding return to the international arena before the late drama in Melbourne. The injury to Leota forces Harry Wilson to take over at number eight, while Cadeyrn Neville takes over in the second row.
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New Zealand Predictable starting lineup: 15 Beauden Barrett; 14 Will Jordan, 13 Rieko Ioane, 12 Jordie Barrett, 11 Caleb Clarke; 10 Richie Mo’unga, 9 Aaron Smith; 8 Ardie Savea, Dalton Papali’i, Akira Ioane, Sam Whitelock (c), Brodie Retallick, Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ethan de Groot.
Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Nepo Laulala, Tupou Vaa’i, Hoskins Sotutu, Finlay Christie, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Sevu Reece.
Australia Predictable starting lineup: 15 Andrew Kellaway; 14 Tom Wright, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Lalakai Foketi, 11 Marika Koroibete; 10 Bernard Foley, 9 Jake Gordon; 8 Harry Wilson, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Rob Valetini, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Jed Holloway, 3 Allan Alaalatoa, 2 Dave Porecki, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: Folau Fainga’a, Angus Bell, Pone Fa’amausili, Nick Frost, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Reece Hodge, Jordan Petaia.